Is affluence such a good thing? At Streetbank, weâ€™re beginning to wonder. Certainly, economic growth means more money for hospitals and schools and generally that means better services. Personally, I like the idea of getting richer â€“ and most of us think of money and happiness being pretty closely linked. But the link is increasingly being questioned. Oliver James in his book Affluenza argues that our efforts to get rich are driven by a desire to do better than the Jonesâ€™s but this leaves us stressed out when we succeed and miserable when we donâ€™t.
At Streetbank we think there is something else at play as well. Affluence allows for independence from friends, neighbours and the community and independence creates a spiral of unfamiliarity which breeds distrust, fear and ultimately loneliness. Weâ€™re hoping that Streetbank will allow people to re-engage with their neighbourhoods. Putting on a few more things for instance involves sacrificing a bit of that independence. We know that sometimes engaging with the community is sometimes hard work, sometime mundane but as Professor Layard writes â€œmodern psychology shows that those that seek the happiness of others are themselves happier.â€ It has got to be worth a try.